State Officials Say Uninsured Rate Has Declined With ACA
Access Health CT released polling data Wednesday suggesting that the number of uninsured state residents has decreased more than 50 percent.
The poll, conducted in July, surveyed 2,564 Access Health CT enrollees and found that 1,367 — or about 53 percent — did not have health insurance prior to signing up for a plan on the exchange. About 46 percent, or 1,176, said they were insured prior to signing up for a plan.
When those numbers are then applied to the total universe of 256,000 current Access Health CT enrollees, Access Health CT estimated that 138,834 of the enrollees were previously uninsured before implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
In 2012, the Kaiser Family Foundation found there were about 286,000 uninsured residents in Connecticut. That’s about 7.9 percent of the state’s population. State officials said that if the Access Health CT survey data is applied to that 7.9 percent uninsured number, then the amount of uninsured today would be down to about 4 percent of the total population.
That means there are still about 147,166 residents in the state without insurance, according to Access Health CT.
About 75 percent of the previously uninsured population enrolled in Medicaid and about 25 percent enrolled with private carriers.
“The news today is a great announcement,” Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, chairwoman of the board of Access Health CT, said.
She said it’s clear the state’s efforts to embrace the Affordable Care Act and the expansion of Medicaid are making a difference for Connecticut residents.
“We have had some naysayers, people who are opposed to the Obamacare, but the numbers released today . . . show us just how important this initiative has been in our state,” Wyman said.
The program, however, has not been without criticism. When Access Health CT canceled its July and August meetings, for instance, state Sen. Len Fasano, R-North Haven, objected, detailing in a letter to Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman the issues that arose over the past few months, including a programming glitch that caused cancellation of the policies of several hundred customers and the security breach when a call center worker left a backpack on a Hartford street. The August meeting was later rescheduled.
The numbers are different than numbers released by a Gallup poll on Tuesday that found Connecticut’s uninsured rate dropped from 12.3 percent in 2013 to 7.4 percent.
Counihan said he was impressed with the drop in the uninsured, which outpaced estimates among Access Health CT staffers.
“No one expected we’d be down to 4 percent,” Counihan said. “Let me put 4 in some context for you. If you think of European industrialized countries with national health insurance, typically, the best they do is 2 percent.”
Counihan, who worked for the Connector in Massachusetts back in 2006, said it took them more than two years to go from 10.7 percent uninsured to about 5.8 percent.
“We did in one year what it took Massachusetts two years to not quite do,” Counihan said.
About 77 percent of the growth in the insurance population came from Medicaid expansion. The rest enrolled in one of the three plans offered by private insurance carriers. About 60,847 of those enrolled in private plans receive tax subsidies and about 16,865 do not receive any tax subsidy.
Counihan said it’s the highest amount of unsubsidized growth in the country. He said Washington returned about $287 million in subsidies to Connecticut and the average subsidy is about $4,700, which has significantly increased affordability of the plans being offered on the exchange.
He said he can’t foresee the rate of uninsured going below 2 percent. He said all the research shows that about 20 percent of the uninsured don’t want to be insured, “so no one is going to get down to zero.”
“Two to three percent is going to be roughly the best that we can do,” Counihan said.
The goal going into the second year is keep the 256,666 residents who signed up through the exchange insured and to “whittle away at the remaining one to two percent,” he said.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the state has made more progress than anyone could have possibly imagined in limiting the number of individuals in the state that have no access to health care.
“We’ve gotten it done,” Malloy declared. “I’m just proud to be part of an administration that has delivered on yet another promise.”